TOKYO -- Panasonic (IW 1000/31) said Friday it had logged another eye-watering net loss in the year to March, coming up $7.5 billion dollars short. The struggling electronics giant booked a 754.25 billion yen (US$7.5 billion) net loss over the year to March, only slightly better than the 772.17 billion yen hole in its balance sheet the previous year, one of the worst-ever losses for a non-financial Japanese firm.
Its operating profit however jumped 268% to 160.94 billion yen as the firm carried out aggressive cost cutting and reform programs, while sales came to 7.3 trillion yen, down 6.9%.
The company said the electronics industry as a whole "continued to be in a severe business situation including sluggish demand in flat-panel TVs mainly in Japan."
Panasonic, like key domestic rivals Sony and Sharp, has long suffered in its television business where foreign rivals have proved tough competition, while its debt has been inflated by the purchase of smaller rival Sanyo.
The company also booked some 508 billion yen as a business restructuring expense.
The firm said the yen's rapid fall against the dollar and the euro toward the end of last year had mitigated its problems somewhat. The Japanese unit was trading well above 100 to the dollar Friday, against a rate below 80 in the middle of last year.
Exporters generally get a bounce from a weakening currency because their products become more competitive overseas and their repatriated profits are worth more at home.
For the year to March 2014, Panasonic resolved to return to net profit of 50 billion yen and increase operating profit to 250 billion yen. But it expected annual sales to fall 1.4% to 7.2 trillion yen.
-Hiroshi Hiyama, AFP
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013